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Dreamthief's Daughter
by: Michael Moorcock
Review by Ciara Grey

This issue I will be taking a look at Michael Moorcock's Dreamthief's Daughter. To be honest, I wasn't able to force myself to read any farther than the first one hundred pages.

There were several factors that caused me to put the book down. I will begin with the fact the story is written in first person. In my opinion, this is a distraction to the reader in a story of this length. Mr. Moorcock also hid the identity of a character, I assume, to build suspense. I ceased to wonder after the second page. It is very difficult to feel any empathy for a character who is drawn as deliberately ambiguous.

The massive info-dump, thinly disguised as a German and family history lesson, was not an attention grabbing sequence. In fact, it had the opposite effect. The story is set in post World War I Germany as Hitler rises to power. When reading for entertainment, a history lesson is not what I look for. Nor do I find political rhetoric/philosophizing and yearning for a Utopian world all wrapped in circular arguments that go nowhere entertaining. If an author wants to put a philosophy across to their readers, they should do it in a way that doesn't remove the reader so far from the main character that they can't identify or care about him/her.

The handling of dialogue was interesting. Conversations began as dialogue in the normal fashion with quotations and the appropriate identity tags. Suddenly, it would lapse into narrative in Ulric's voice, then back to dialogue. This was such an abrupt shift that it jarred me out of the story. There were also too many American ideas and names of places thrown around to keep the reader in Germany of that period in time.

Mr. Moorcock spent four or five pages describing the main character's situation and surroundings. While he did this, he contradicted himself. Ulric ends up in a completely dark cave and mentions that he is afraid to move because he can't see. His rescuer joins him. She doesn't have a light of any kind with her, yet Ulric can see what she looks like and how she moves around.

The author goes on and on about the caverns. Early in this description, Mr. Moorcock makes it a point to say how there is no good way to convey the sight of the phosphorescent lit caverns through words or with photographs to another person. At the end of this extended description, he makes a point to say that anyone wishing to know exactly what the caves were like only had to look at a picture of the Carlsbad caves of New Mexico to see what he meant.

There were a couple of instances where the actions scenes were very good. They just weren't enough to keep me wanting to turn the pages.

Authors who break so many rules simply because they are established and previously successful give other aspiring writers the wrong impression about the publishing industry. When material like this gets through the editorial process with out being massively overhauled, it gives the business of writing a bad reputation.

If an unestablished author, like you or I, were to try to submit this kind of work to an agent or editor, we would be laughed at and promptly rejected.

I usually enjoy a good "Alternative History" story. Unfortunately, I was not able to enjoy this unrealistically portrayed piece of narrative.

This was such a disappointment and, since I could not force myself to read the whole thing, I can't give it a rating.

(Editors Note: I will if you won't, Ciara.
- Disappointing, long-winded, confusing, bland and uninspiring -
* 1/2 - Lee Masterson)

Rating Scale:
* * * * * = Un-put-downable, excellent reading!
* * * * = Good value, interesting reading.
* * * = Had potential, but could have been better.
* * = Slow, difficult to read, could have been improved.
* = Imminently forgettable.



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